American Express Global Business Travel agreed to go public through a merger with a blank-check company backed by Apollo Global Management Inc.
The transaction values the corporate travel agency’s pro forma market capitalization at about $5.3 billion, AmEx GBT said in a statement.
The agreement includes commitments from new investors, “a huge vote of confidence in our business and the future of business travel, and meetings and events,” Paul Abbott, AmEx GBT’s chief executive officer, said in the statement.
Business travel has been among the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic as travel restrictions and lockdowns forced road warriors to stay at home.
Last month, consultancy AlixPartners said corporate trips are in a structural decline that could be as deep as 25% below 2019 levels in 2025. Businesses polled by Bloomberg earlier this year said they’ve permanently slashed budgets, especially for internal trips, due to tools such as Zoom.
The latest wave of restrictions tied to the omicron variant threatens a recovery in the profitable and highly traveled transatlantic market — just as the U.S. started welcoming visitors from Europe and other parts of the world in November.
“I don’t believe there is a long-term structural decline in business travel,” Abbott said in an interview Friday. “Our data has shown that whenever restrictions are removed, there is huge pent-up demand.”
AmEx GBT plans to use the proceeds from the reverse merger to invest in products and technology, accelerate growth plans and consolidate the industry with mergers and acquisitions, Abbott said.
As part of the agreement, London-based American Express Global Business Travel would raise about $335 million in a private investment in public equity deal, according to the statement. Investors include Zoom Video Communications Inc., the travel-technology firm Sabre Corp. and Apollo.
Abbott said the investment by Zoom would help set the company up for a future in which meetings and events are held in a hybrid format, with some in-person attendees and many more joining remotely from around the world.
Amex GBT was spun out of American Express Co. in 2014, creating a joint venture with American Express holding 50% while an investor group led by Certares held the remaining stake. In 2019, the companies said they had agreed to an equity recapitalization.